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Bunhead Psyche 101

By Robert Graham for Steps on Broadway

I get a lot of questions about why ballet dancers have “attitudes”. This is a loaded question. I would begin by asserting that everyone with a personality has an attitude. While it is true that some personalities will simply clash with one another, it is my hope that what follows will shed some light on the mentality that is the ballerina. May I introduce to you. . .the bunhead.

It is customary for the average bunhead to show up anywhere from thirty minutes, to a whole hour before class to stretch, and warm up. For clarity’s sake, you can think of a bunhead as being just like a jarhead, only more flexible. In my experience, the bunhead is an unforgivably, self-loathing creature. In fact, I would challenge anyone who said bunheads are nothing more than simple-minded self-obsessed little girls (and boys), and argue that bunheads are high-functioning, multi-taskers. I would further claim that any self-obsessed behavior really comes from deeply rooted inferiority complexes. They also tend to have an inexplicable affinity for all horizontal wooden poles.

Which brings me to the love of the barre. Yes, the extra “r” and “e” are intentional in the spelling. Bunheads are dancers, not alcoholics. Don’t ask why its spelled that way. No bunhead can tell you. Just blame the French. The barre is the constant reminder of how good you are. . .NOT. But, because it is not a real person, you have no way of being angry at it. The barre is kind of like your disabled great-aunt who keeps slobbering at the dinner table uncontrollably. You wish it could be different, but you are not quite angry at it. The best way to explain how the barre works is by example. It goes like this. Every time you need to touch the barre, it screams, “you are weak”. While it is only natural that a normal person would from time-to-time, sway or shift weight and need to hold onto the barre to maintain a light sense of stability, a bunhead tries to maintain a full 180 degree hip turnout, without sticking out one’s rear or chest, while not touching the barre. Bunheads are not concerned at all with what is natural. . .much less with what is normal….

Read more at Steps on Broadways blog here.

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